Honda finally joins the hybrid race in Thailand _ with a new take on a bestseller
This is the eco-friendly version of the Jazz, the first Honda to go hybrid in Thailand by combining an 88hp 1.3-litre petrol engine and a 14hp electric motor.
Other technical details distinguishing the Jazz Hybrid from the regular version include automatic stop/start, energy regeneration, low rolling resistance tyres, CVT automatic transmission and an ''eco driving'' mode. Owners will also benefit from improved fuel economy even better than that in ecocars like the Nissan March or Honda's own Brio.
Since a battery pack has been placed beneath the floor of the boot (a tyre-lifesaving kit is now offered in place of a spare tyre), engineers gave the Jazz Hybrid new coil springs to cope with the extra weight in the rear.
Honda says the Jazz Hybrid, at 1,166kg, is some 50kg heavier overall.
Other distinctive features are the U-shaped front bumper, glossy grille and automatic climate control for the cabin.
The price has been set at 768,000 baht _ 53,000 baht more than for an ordinary Jazz in range-topping form; this despite the lowering of the excise rate to 10%. The premium is attributed to the cost of the electrical components.
Honda says the Jazz Hybrid is eligible for a 60,000 baht discount under the first-time car-buyer scheme launched by the Thai government.
Honda's 21.3kpl average fuel-economy claim sounds a little optimistic when juxtaposed with the 18.5kpl figure we recorded. However, that's still impressive compared to the normal Jazz, in which we once achieved no more than 11kpl in similar driving conditions.
Even though it appears that the Jazz Hybrid is more about economy than performance, there's still a sufficient level of acceleration and power in the mid-ranges.
And what makes the Jazz Hybrid outstanding is the smooth power delivery, thanks to the CVT 'box.
The regular Jazz uses a torque-converter five-speed auto instead. Despite the increased weight, the driving characteristics have apparently not been affected. The Jazz Hybrid still handles easily and rides with enough compliance. In fact, having more weight in the rear is a benefit since it helps out with the handling balance of the car.
There's really nothing much to complain about in the Jazz Hybrid. Just don't expect it to have the straight-line performance of the 120hp 1.5-litre Jazz. As mentioned earlier, the Jazz Hybrid is more about saving fuel.
Buy or bye?
Since you don't get added (less, in fact) performance or a vastly more generous kit in the Jazz Hybrid, it's all a matter of fuel economy here. More expensive hybrid-powered cars in Thailand offer advantages in three different areas _ economy, performance and specifications _ compared to their regular stablemates.
And let's not forget that typical Jazz buyers are far more sensitive about money than owners of cars priced over 1.5 million baht. So the key question is: will you be able to save money with the Jazz Hybrid?
Yes and no. It will take some time to save enough on fuel to compensate for the 58,000 baht price difference between the Jazz Hybrid and a regular Jazz (138,000 baht if compared to the baseline Jazz equipped with the same safety kit and auto transmission).
The Jazz Hybrid has a roughly one baht lower running cost per kilometre (1.6 vs 2.6 if running on Gasohol 91), so you're going have to rack up a distance to match the premium you paid for it before you can start economising.
However splendid the hybrid concept may sound to tree-huggers for its ability to reduce CO2 tail-pipe emissions, it doesn't offer instantaneous financial returns for the new owner.
A matter for you, dear reader, to decide.
About the author
- Writer: Richard Leu
Position: Motoring news Editor